Monday, July 31, 2005 -- Week of Proper 12 (Ignatius of Loyola)
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.
Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this link -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 977)
Psalm 56, 57,  (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)
"You can't climb that tree." "Watch me."
Joshua's gives the people one of those you-can't-do-that challenges. "You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God." The reason he gives is centered in God's own nature as one who is passionately determined to be Israel's only God -- "for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God." Joshua goes further. He cannot conceive that this holy and jealous God will give Israel a second chance should Israel forsake God. "He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins."
It is a sobering challenge. To support the people in their promise to serve God, Joshua gives them three things -- a covenant, the book of the law, and a reminder in the form of a witness stone under the oak in the sanctuary at Shechem. Not unlike our Christian structures -- Jesus the new covenant, the gospels and early writings, the sacraments.
Romans 16 -- Yes, there is a woman listed among the apostles. And a couple who hosts a church in their home. And a sister whose title is shared elsewhere by Paul and by Christ.
"Greet Andronicus and Junia, ...they are prominent among the apostles." Junia is a woman's name. She is listed among the apostles.
"Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus... Greet also the church in their house." This couple is listed together as the leaders of the early house church, the woman's name listed first, which is unusual in ancient times.
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her, ...and help her in whatever she may require from you." Paul is sending Phoebe to minister in Rome. He tells them to help her. The word translated "deacon" (diakonos) can also be translated "minister" or "servant". In Romans 15:8 Paul uses the word of Jesus, "For I tell you that Christ has become a diakonos of the circumcised..." And Paul speaks of himself with the same term. "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Diakonos through whom you came to believe."
Is it too far a stretch to see in this short list of Paul's greetings the presence of women working in what would become the three-fold ordained ministries? Bishop, Junia. Priest, Prisca. Deacon, Phoebe. Many scholars see the New Testaments texts that limit or prohibit female leadership in worship as being later reactions against the practice of Paul in whose churches there was a radical equality. In Christ "there is no longer male or female." (Gal. 3:28)
We have the brief passage of the soldiers' mocking and torturing Jesus. He does not respond in bitterness or anger. He does not ask God for vengeance. He endures and absorbs the evil with total vulnerability. He will trust God and maintain his own character as one who loves and serves.
What might that say to our day when violence responded to with violence is the norm?
To Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the "Morning Reflections" email list, go to our Subscriptions page
The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St. Paul's Episcopal Church